Q: How do I handle friends and relatives who judge what and when I eat? If I don’t eat a second helping of Mom’s specialty, her feelings are hurt. If I say I’m full and don’t want dessert, Dad rolls his eyes. And my husband doesn’t understand why I’m not eating what I’ve prepared for him. But all of them make comments about people’s weight, such as, “Why doesn’t she lose some weight?”
A: First, be humble and people will likely extend you more grace. When faced with a judgment about eating the food you really want at times when you’re really hungry for it—or turning down something you just don’t want—admit that you’re experimenting with a very different approach to what has been a longtime problem for you. Ask for forbearance and to be cut a little bit of slack.
More important, though, is remembering that you can never please all the people all of the time, and often when following Jesus, you please very few. I recall that when I first started down this path, experimenting with returning to the “original design” of eating in response to hunger, as well as letting go of legalism, I was “keeping company” with a man who had just lost quite a bit of weight by dieting. When he saw me eating “forbidden” foods, he scoffed, and he made no bones about the fact that I was heavier than the girls he usually liked. I was faced with a choice: make nice by being careful to eat what he considered “legal” foods and attempting to lose weight to garner his approval, or pursuing a path that I believed to be more in line with biblical principles and life in the Spirit. Eventually we went our separate ways, but I occasionally ran into him. Over the years his weight constantly fluctuated, mostly upward. And although I gained weight at first, I did end up eating the way naturally slim people eat, and my size has changed very little over the past 28 years.
When friends and family criticize, you can either accept their judgments or accept that they are responding the way people have responded for ages to anything that is different or unusual. There is no one who understands such criticism better than your Savior, who in the power of the Spirit looked for approval from the only One whose opinion ultimately matters.